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Self-acquired property of Hindu male deceased before Hindu Succession Act devolves by inheritance; daughter entitled to it: Supreme Court

The top court after analysing Hindu laws, customs and judicial precedents held that the right of a widow or daughter to inherit the self-acquired property or share received in partition of a coparcenary property of a Hindu male dying intestate is well recognized not only under the old customary Hindu Law but also by various judicial pronouncements.

After perusing texts from the several Hindu schools of thought, the top court said that the rights of women in the family to maintenance were in every case very substantial rights and on whole, it would seem that some of the commentators erred in drawing adverse inferences from the vague references to women’s succession in the earlier Smritis.

“The views of the Mitakshara on the matter are unmistakable. Vijneshwara also nowhere endorses the view that women are incompetent to inherit,” the judgment.

It, therefore, proceeded to answer the first two questions as follows:

“If a property of a male Hindu dying intestate is a self-acquired property or obtained in partition of a co-parcenery or a family property, the same would devolve by inheritance and not by survivorship, and a daughter of such a male Hindu would be entitled to inherit such property in preference to other collaterals.”

In the present case, since the property in question was admittedly the self-acquired property of Marappa Gounder despite the family being in state of jointness upon his death intestate, his sole surviving daughter Kupayee Ammal, will inherit the same by inheritance and the property shall not devolve by survivorship, the Court ruled.

Regarding question no. 3, the Court held that under the old customary Hindu Law, there are contradictory opinions in respect of the order of succession to be followed after the death of such a daughter inheriting the property from his father.

“One school is of the view that such a daughter inherits a limited estate like a widow, and after her death would revert back to the heirs of the deceased male who would be entitled to inherit by survivorship. While other school of thought holds the opposite view,” the Court noted.

Source: Barandbench

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